VAT THEATRE FORUM GROUP

Project leaders: Margo Teder and Mari-Liis Velberg
Target group: from children to adults, depending on the forum theatre event

Contact and information:
Mari-Liis Velberg
mariliis[at]vatteater.ee
+372 56 982 380

Forum was the centre in Ancient Rome where important topics were discussed. Forum Theatre is one part of Augusto Boal’s system of The Theatre of the Oppressed.
Website of The Theatre of the Oppressed: www.theatreoftheoppressed.org
Forum Theatre is the meeting point of theatre and community work. Theatre and play can spring from every person. They give us a chance to dream and discover the goodness together even in places where the world appears in dark colours. Forum theatre examines the possibility of change. It is simultaneously interactive, social and participatory theatre as well as a social teaching method. 2010 sees the continuing collaboration between VAT Theatre Forum Group, Estonian Union for Child Welfare social theatre group MEIE, and partner organisations from Estonia and beyond.

SOME ACTIVITIES WE FACILITATE

Forum theatre performance: duration 1-2 hours. This is suitable for the opening of theme events (i.e. seminars) or for work with smaller groups (i.e. classroom, work collective). Prior to the performance we do preparatory work and workshops with the target group. The aim is to investigate topics, to raise awareness and to generate dialogue.

Workshop: duration depends on the target group. The purpose can be to identify problems and to investigate them. Forum group can be invited to work on longer projects (i.e. at schools, at least 3-5 workshops)


Forum theatre training: duration depends on the target group. Participants have been young people and specialists working with youth. However, forum theatre method can be a useful tool to anyone looking for opportunities to engage a target group, to empower a group in more creative ways and to solve any problems.


AS A NEW OPTION SINCE 2010
a post-performance process: after certain VAT Theatre performances (i.e. „Paperclip Belt“) forum theatre can be used as a tool to workshop and discuss topics with children. This is done in order for them to understand the social background of the production and to look for solutions together. VAT Theatre Forum Group can be invited to schools. The group members will facilitate a workshop or direct a forum theatre production based on the topics from the VAT Theatre production. It can be guaranteed that each event is unique depending on the participants!

BACKGROUND OF VAT THEATRE FORUM GROUP

VAT Theatre Forum Group is the oldest forum theatre group in Estonia. It has been active since 1999 when the first forum theatre stories were presented in Mustamäe youth culture festival „Youth Without Violence“. The primary target audience up to now has been school youth, but the group has also collaborated with university students, teachers, convicts, prison workers, school theatre leaders and social workers. The topics have included: violence (at school, at home, on the streets etc), drugs, theft, and discrimination on different levels.

Some examples from VAT Theatre Forum Group social theatre activities since 1999 (source: „Forum Theatre’s application possibilities through the example of school violence prevention“, Mari-Liis Velberg, 2008)

Mustamäe school youth festival „Youth Without Violence“ (“Vägivallata noorus”) (since 1999) – performances

Estonian Television youth programme „Rusikas“ (2000) – series consisting of 15 programmes about social issues
Tallinn Children’s Shelter House (2003/2004) – workshops for children with drug dependency problems
Project „Interactive theatre as an informal learning possibility“ (2004) – trainings for youth and adults, incl. social workers and teachers
Tallinn Children’s Support Centre project „All Youth Against Violence!“ („Kõik Noored Vägivalla Vastu!”) (2004/2005) – 12 workshops about violence to Tallinn universities’ social sciences students
Vasalemma school project „You have a choice!“ ("Sul on valikuvõimalus!") (2005) – workshops about not attending school and prevention of conflicts to students, and a performance to school workers
Kadriorg German School (2005) – performances about violence to grades 5-7
Tartu Children’s Shelter House project „Free the tensions with creativity!“ („Loovusega pingetest priiks!” ) (2005) – workshops to volunteers
Tallinn Children’s Support Centre (2005) – workshops to children Project „Freedom of Choice“ („ValikuVabadus“) (2005) – performances about school violence to six Tallinn schools’ 6th graders
Project „Freedom of choice – ID of forum theatre“ („Valikuvõimalus – foorumteatri ID!“) (2006/2007) – information days introducing forum theatre and word explanation game „ENTER“, both as creative methods for violence prevention. These took place in eight counties and in Tallinn. The target group consisted of specialists working at schools, youth centres and other social institutions
Estonian Centre for Child Welfare (since 2006) – forum theatre trainings for youth and specialists working with youth
Urvaste school project „A truly encouraging game“ („Tõsine julgust andev mäng“) (2007) – workshops for the school’s teachers and students
Tartu Children’s Shelter House project „Together we make a better future“ („Loome koos parema homse!“) (2007) – workshops for children. Prevention of violence and criminal actions.
SA Õpilasmalev (2008) – forum theatre trainings to voluntary youth work camp group leaders
Open forum theatre performances about topical issues in National Library, VAT Theatre hall and in Tartu Genialistide Klubi (since 2008)

WHERE WE’RE HEADING

In 2008 VAT Theatre forum group was aiming for more theatricality through open forum performances. In 2009 we made steps towards more in-depth social approaches with the target groups. Through the years we have worked with school violence prevention and this remains one of our goals, whereas we prefer longer term projects with groups. In 2009 VAT Theatre Forum Group and Estonian Centre for Child Welfare social theatre group MEIE begun collaborating. That year we also celebrated our 10th birthday . We presented the first book in Estonian about forum theatre, „Forum Theatre’s application possibilities through the example of school violence prevention“ by Mari-Liis Velberg.


One goal in 2009 was to enthuse creation and continuous work of small Estonian forum theatre groups. For this reason we organised in collaboration with Estonian Centre for Child Welfare the first forum theatre festival, which took place May 2-3, 2009 in Tartu.

Platform 11+ is a project which started in autumn 2009 and it continues until 2010. It has opened new gateways for forum theatre to work with youth. In this project we started to work on new ways in finding forum theatre stories in plays. Also, we are investigating how forum theatre can be used to open up social issues behind traditional theatre performances. Currently the group is working with „Paperclip Belt“. In this project the group also collaborates with a designer and a dramatist.

The goal of enthusing people working with children and youth to use forum theatre has been met over the years by organising different informational and prevention projects. We also started to teach forum theatre methodologies in universities – Viljandi Culture Academy and Tallinn University.


The second forum theatre festival took place in June 2010. The guests included among others our long-term partners from Finland – Jouni Piekkari ja Micke Renlund.


In 2010 VAT Theatre forum group continues giving forum theatre performances, organising workshops and trainings all over Estonia. We will also further our collaborations abroad. In order to collaborate with groups in Estonia and to support forum theatre development in Estonia, we are executing RESEARCH ABOUT ESTONIAN FORUM THEATRE GROUPS. If you know of any groups, please let us know at mariliis[at]vatteater.ee. There is also a forum theatre mailing list (FoorumTeater_Praktika_Teooria_[at]yahoogroups.com ) where we notify about any upcoming trainings and other events. If you wish to join, please let us know!


AWARDS

Mustamäe Borough Council acknowledged VAT Theatre Forum Group’s work in 2006 for organising forum theatre events
Award for most innovative method by European Youth Council for word explanation game ENTER
Archimedes Foundation Award for developing forum theatre in Estonia
E-Quality award for Grundtvig 2 project „Forum Theatre in Adult Education“
VAT Theatre Forum Group and project leader Mari-Liis Velberg received the 2nd place in the Student Research Prize of Estonian Academy of Sciences in 2007 with her MA thesis „Forum Theatre’s application possibilities through the example of school violence prevention“
Award „Big Deeds for Tallinn Youth“, 2008
Project leader: Mari-Liis Velberg
VAT Teater Forumgroup: Kadi Jaanisoo, Piret Soosaar, Aare Taveter, Mihkel Roolaid, Madis Raie, Mari-Liis Velberg

Contact and info: Mari-Liis Velberg mariliis[at]vatteater.ee

Forum Theatre as social theatre is based on active participation, interaction and dialogue. It originates from Augusto Boal´s Theatre of The Oppressed in 1960s. The purpose is to help to restore the communication between people, so they can stand up for their interests and rights. The aim is to develop as personalities in order to grow and develop as well as to help those around us.
Forum group generates new performances according to each different target group requirements.
The performance lasts 1,5- 2 hours.
Workshop and training duration is determined on individual basis.

VAT Theatre Forum group has been active since 1999 premiere at Mustamäe Youth Cultural Festival. The main target group is youth, but also teachers, students, prisoners and social workers.  

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